Most important laws and rules in the UAE in 2019

 

Same as each other year, 2019 is no exception for major changes to the laws of the UAE. These changes are of big variety — from space strategy and wellbeing program to labour rules and visa terms. Some of them might not have much effect on your daily life but some might be crucial for you in 2020.

So we picked the most important changes approved and implemented in 2019 by the UAE government, which are imperative for you to know and to keep track of.
Here is a brief tour of the most important legislative changes in the UAE in 2019:

 

December

December 25 –

The UAE Cabinet approved the issuing of a Federal Law On Consumer Protection aimed at safeguarding consumer rights from potential price hikes and tighten up regulations surrounding the rapid growth of e-commerce. Once brought into force, the law will regulate the work of suppliers, advertisers and commercial agent, control price increases and ensure customers have guarantees over the quality of goods and services.

December 19 –

New DMCC Rules for business. The new regulations applicable to companies licensed in the DMCC will be effective from 02.01.2020. Major improvements include increased flexibility for a company’s Articles of Association and the ability to transfer company incorporation into DMCC as well as the introduction of different share types and a dormant status for companies.

December 1 –

List of Excise Taxable Products expanded. The UAE Cabinet added to the List of excise taxable products items deemed harmful for health, such as sugary drinks, cigarettes, electronic smoking devices including liquids used in such devices. From now, electronic smoking devices, and the liquids used in them will be hit with a 100 % Tax, while soft drinks containing added sugar and sweeteners will be subject to a 50 % Tax.

November

November 24 –

Domestic workers over 60 can renew contracts. The new option is available provided the domestic helper is medical fit, the health insurance is paid by the employer and all authorities involved grant their approval.

November 18 –

The UAE Cabinet has approved a Federal Law On Insolvency of Natural Persons. The new legislation will come into effect in January 2020. It protects debt-ridden individuals from criminal prosecution and offers support to repay debts within three years instead.

November 5 –

New Ethical Standards for Property Brokers in Dubai. The Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) issued a circular comprising ten obligations to be followed by real estate professionals. The guidelines aim at maintaining public trust and protecting investors.

October

October 19 –

Abu Dhabi Judicial Department launched the Innovative Digital System in order to expand lingual ability. The first of its kind, Digital Judicial System will be able to translate the judgments from Arabic into five languages (English, Hindi, Tagalog, Russian, Urdu) to help litigants understand their verdicts.

October 10 –

UAE to be removed from the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions. The move follows the introduction of economic substance regulations in the UAE. The country was initially blacklisted by the EU in December 2017 because it was seen as facilitating arrangements aimed at attracting overseas profits which do not reflect real economic activity in the UAE.

September

September 25 –

New Law on jointly owned real estate in Dubai. Dubai Law No. 6 of 2019 distinguishes between three categories of properties, i.e. mega projects, hotels and those needing facility management services, and refers to activities of facility management companies, developers and homeowners’ associations.

September 9 –

Unlimited employment contracts in JAFZA. For the first time, the Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA) now offers the option to conclude an unlimited term employment contract instead of a limited-term employment contract. The template for an unlimited term contract as well as the updated template for a limited-term contract is already available online.

July

July 28 –

Men on family visas can get work permits. The two-year work permit applies to both skilled and limited skilled employees and costs AED 300 for all categories of firms. Previously, such work permits were exclusively issued to women who are under the sponsorship of their family.

July 17 –

DMCC introduces Dual Licensing System. The Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC) and Dubai Economy have signed a strategic cooperation agreement on business licensing in Dubai allowing DMCC companies to operate within the Free Zone and onshore in the Emirate of Dubai.

July 14 –

Ministry of Economy amends fee structure for 110 government services. Fees for 102 services canceled and fees for 8 services reduced by 50%.

July 11 –

Up to 94% cut in labour fees for issuing work permits. The Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratization (MoHRE) reduced charges for 145 services, including 17 transactions with a cut between 50% and 94%, based on a new classification system of companies based on the skill level and the cultural diversity of their employees.

July 11 –

Free liquor license for tourists in Dubai. Tourists in the UAE who are here on a visit visa can now obtain a free liquor license to legally purchase alcohol from MMI outlets during their stay. The license will be valid for 30 days and applicable for renewal if the tourist chooses to extend their stay. The process of obtaining a liquor license for residents has been significantly relaxed too by decreasing the list of required documents.

July 4 –

Positive List for foreign direct investment issued pursuant to Federal Decree-Law No. 19 of 2018. The Positive List permits 100% foreign ownership in UAE mainland companies for 122 activities in 13 sectors. The sectors include renewable energy, space, agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and storage, hospitality and food services, information and telecommunications, scientific, technical and professional activities, administrative and support services, education, healthcare, art, and entertainment as well as construction.

July 3 –

The issuance of new Cabinet Resolution No (40) of 2019 concerning the UAE Federal Law on Medical Liability, to improve the quality of healthcare in the UAE and manage malpractice claims.

June

June 30 –

The DIFC Wills & Probate Registry announced the New Rules regarding the attestation of the Wills in the UAE, enabling to include the assets from outside Dubai and RAK. Previously, non-Muslims were only able to register wills covering Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah properties and holdings through the DIFC.

June 16 –

The UAE Cabinet approved Federal Law On Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), aimed to safeguard public health from risks linked to GMOs or their products and guarantee the consumers’ rights to choose the right products.

June 12 –

New DIFC Insolvency Law. The legislation came into effect on 28.08.2019 and include a new debtor in possession bankruptcy regime for companies operating out of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

June 9 –

The UAE Cabinet adopted the National Strategy for Wellbeing 2031, which aims to make the UAE a world leader in quality of life through a number of strategic objectives and initiatives. The Strategy includes 14 components and nine strategic objectives, which include enhancing people’s wellbeing by promoting healthy and active lifestyles, promoting good mental health and adopting positive thinking.

May

May 22 –

UAE introduces permanent residency. As part of the visa reform, the Government introduced a “Golden Card” to certain investors, entrepreneurs, specialized talents, researchers and outstanding students and their families.

May 19 –

New Salary Insurance Scheme in JAFZA. The Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA) announced to launch a workforce protection program to help protect employees’ wages of JAFZA companies. The new initiative aligns the free zone’s wage protection policies with those of the UAE Ministry of Labour.

April

April 29 –

More efficient dispute settlements in DIAC. The newly issued Dubai Decree No. 17 of 2019 replaces the current rules of the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC) and enhances the arbitration center’s procedures.

April 18 –

Abu Dhabi opens the freehold property market to foreigners. According to the changes in the real estate law, all foreigners will be allowed to own land and property in investment areas on a freehold basis. Previously, foreign investors were largely restricted to 99-year leases in the capital of the UAE.

April –

The Judicial Departments across the UAE had begun enforcing judicial rulings and placing convicts under electronic monitoring. Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah have officially implemented the GPS bracelet system for electronic monitoring or tagging of “House Arrest” for offenders.

April –

Car renewal. Dubai Police has relaxed the rules on fine repayment in line with its safety initiative, which gives increased discounts overtime to drivers of exemplary standards, by offering up to 100 percent off fines if a driver does not commit any violations for a full calendar year. Accordingly, Dubai Police have instructed the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to allow drivers to renew their car without clearing their fines, to be able to utilize discounts. The vehicle’s license will be renewed regardless of the amount of the accumulated fines or any periods of confiscation imposed on the cars, or the number of offenses committed.

March

March 31 –

The UAE Cabinet has adopted a decision to amend provisions of the resolution on sponsoring foreign workers to their families in the country.

March 20 –

Early termination fee amended for mobile contracts. The new amendment was brought in by the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) with the statement that users will only be charged a one-month fee to exit their mobile phone contract early. This replaces the current rule, which allows network providers to charge a monthly fee multiplied by the number of remaining months of the contract.

March 14 –

ADAFZ reduces set-up costs for new businesses. Abu Dhabi Airports Free Zone (ADAFZ) has cut its business formation costs by more than 65% and waive all license fees for new companies in 2019-2020.

March 12 –

Applications for long-term visas. The UAE’s residency departments started receiving applications for long-term visas of 5 and 10 years. These visas are available to certain investors, entrepreneurs, innovators and professional talents.

March 11 –

The UAE Cabinet has adopted the National Space Strategy 2030, aims at achieving UAE’s vision in the field of space exploration, technologies, and applications. The Strategy also constitutes one of the pillars of the regulatory framework for the space sector in the country which consists of four components: National Space Policy, Space Sector Law, Space Regulations, and National Space Strategy.

February

February 23 –

The UAE Cabinet adopted a resolution on the amendments to the Civil Procedure Code, that are aimed at strengthening and modernizing the judicial procedures to ensure their ease of application.

February 18 –

The UAE Cabinet has approved Resolution No. 15 of 2019 on the executive regulations of Federal Law No. 22 of 2016 on the Regulation of Dangerous Animals Possession in support of ensuring security and safety in society. The Resolution includes 12 articles detailing the requirements for the transport of dangerous animals and their places of accommodation, as well as measures for their seizure, care, and disposal.

February 11 –

The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department has recognized Hindi as its third official language apart from Arabic and English in labour law-related proceedings.

February 6 –

Issuance of Federal Law No. 2/2019 On Information and Communication Technology in Healthcare, is the first of its kind federal data privacy law related to the healthcare sector.

January

January 27 –

Rent defaulters allowed to pay debts at the airport. The new smart system of the Rental Disputes Center (RDC) makes it possible that rent defaulters in the Emirate of Dubai, who are banned from traveling, can now settle their dues at the airport and thereafter fly out of the country immediately.

January 7 –

New labour court to provide rulings within hours. The Summary Cases Court at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MoHRE) in Abu Dhabi handles straightforward cases, such as employers withholding employees’ passports or failing to apply for the issuance or renewal of health insurance cards. The new court complements the One Day Labour Court which was launched in October 2017.

Financial Crime Cases / Court Practice

According to the part 1 article 404 of Federal Law 1987 No 3 on Penal Code amended by Federal Law of 2005 No 34 and Federal Law of 2006 No 52:

“any person shall be sentenced to detention or to a fine, whoever embezzles, uses or dilapidates amounts, bills or any other movable property to the prejudice of those entitled whenever said movable property are delivered to him on bases of deposit, lease, pledge, loan for consumption or proxy”.

In the application of this provision shall be considered as a proxy, the partner in joint property, the officious on the property of the interested owner and whoever received something to be used in a specific matter for the benefit of its owner or of others.

This example of criminal offense is much expanded in the country and in practice; the judge might sentence the accused to 3 years jail term together with the imposition of deportation according to article 121 of the Law.

One of the latest court examples to be illuminated is the case where the partner was sentenced to the maximum term required by the article for receiving and using the company money. The funds came from one partner to another with the purpose of the construction of the factory. The court of the first instance considered the accused as guilty and sentenced him to maximum punishment. However, the appeal court took into consideration the lack of criminal component in the case and changed the punishment from jail term to fine.

The major point of our defense in the case was the insistence of lack of criminal intent and the necessity for the case to be seen by the civil court with further evidence and investigation of financial flow inside of the company. The court accepted the point and reduced the punishment to the fine.

The affected party saved the right to raise a civil case in the competent court, therefore, the criminal procedure was completed without of real sentence for the partner.

General advice for any financial crime is insistent on the investigation of intention on the crime, the evidence of the receiving of funds and in case of not acceptance of judgment to use the right for an appeal.

________________________________________________________________________________

The article prepared by lawyer Dr. Maryam-Krystyna Nechaieva

Legal review of the rights of disabled in the UAE

By: Dr. Maryam (Krystyna) Nechaeva

UAE implemented a series of steps to implement measures for people with special needs after joining world Convention by means of huge changes in the governmental sector giving more attention to these people and their future.

Governmental and local authorities created an environment for this group of citizens with a separate budget regulation of public meaning and established special departments to support and present the rights for disables people such as
– Disabilities Affairs,
– Youth and Sports Authority;
– Sharjah City for Humanitarian Service;
– Dubai Club for the Disabled

Only specific group of people is determined as disabled under Article 26 of Federal Law No.29 of 2006 Concerning the Rights of People with Special Needs such as suffering from a temporary or permanent, full or partial deficiency or infirmity in physical, sensory, mental, communicational, educational or psychological abilities to an extent that limits the possibility of performing the ordinary requirements.

The same law No.29 of 2006 provided for these people scope of rights but not limited to educational rights, right to the workplace including public sector for UAE nationals, cultural, family and sports rights ext. These rights can be easily implemented through special organizations that provide preparatory work for future candidates and students depends on professional and special skills.

In Support of the Federal law No.29 of 2006 the Ruler of Dubai, issued Law No. 2 of 2014 “To protect the rights of people of determination in the emirate of Dubai” providing high-quality medical care and social services, boost public awareness and contribute to integrating people of determination into society and reaffirm their participation in social development.

Talking about the legal rights of disabled people it’s important to classify the type of the disease and the level of capacity. Federal law No.29 of 2006 has a lack of classification and might be amended in future to include this contribution. However, according to Personal Status Law No.28 of 2005 disables person has a right to have guardian and custodian to present his rights and provide further protection. The priority is given to eliminate the guardianship of persons with disabilities and support their independence rather than limit their functioning, widen their access to basic and social services, and ensure that their voices were heard in the development of laws and policies.

In conclusion, it is grateful to observe that UAE plans to develop rules and regulation for the need of disabled people and keeps modifying legal perspectives and directions to integrate people with disabilities in the daily life and local environment. The latest initiative of the Dubai government is an overall goal to become the world’s most disabled-friendly cities, preparing new standards for buildings, parks, hospitals, infrastructure and transport by 2020.

Author: Dr. Krystyna Nechaeva

Legal Consultant, Head of the Corporate Department

Рекламная Деятельность в ОАЭ – правовые аспекты

Рекламная деятельность в Эмиратах широко используется в коммерческих целях на теле и радио эфирах, социальных сетях, интернет ресурсах, средствах массовой информации и так далее.

Законодательство Эмиратов отличается от законодательства других немусульманских стран наличием норм Шариата.

Например, реклама не должна содержать следующее:

– критику о политике, национальности и религии;
– подробности и данные о личной жизни;
– неправдивые и заведомо ложные сведения;
– протоколы правительственных встреч и судебных слушаний;
– данные, материалы и фото нарушающие общественные и моральные устои;
– распространение табачных и алкогольных изделий;
– торговля запрещенными веществами, которые воздействуют на сознание;
– данные, относящиеся к колдовству и оккультизму;
– товары здравоохранения без надлежащего разрешения;
– деятельность, связанная с азартными играми.

Первичным условием ведения рекламной деятельности является наличие лицензии о государственной регистрации юридического лица. В дальнейшем рекламодатель должен утвердить содержание рекламы на наличие запрещенной или некорректной информации.

Рекламная деятельность и реклама контролируется Министерством Информации и Культуры, Media Counsel и Департаментом по Экономической деятельности на основании Закона ОАЭ №15 «Об издательстве» от 1980 года и другими нормативно-правовыми актами в том числе Законом ОАЭ № 5 «О Киберпреступлениях» от 2012 года.

Обязанностью рекламодателя является использование правдивой информации, а также, включение в рекламу полных данных о компании и ее логотипа, использование авторизированной медиа и иной информации.

Нарушение рекламной деятельности может повлечь административную, гражданскую и уголовную ответственность. Контролирующий орган может принять решение о наложении санкций на рекламодателя в виде штрафа, удаления или блокировки рекламного объявления, приостановление и лишение лицензии.

How to find the right lawyer in the UAE?

 

Anyone who is looking for a lawyer in the United Arab Emirates for the first time might ask himself a several very important of questions:

– Where to start (which Emirate)?
– Which lawyer do I need in my particular situation (criminal, civil, family, labour)?
– What to look for in a lawyer? (Price, quality, experience, nationality…).

Finding the right lawyer to handle your matter is critical in saving the time and money, as well as achieving a favorable result. It is advised to talk to several different lawyers before choosing the right one. First of all, it is better to look for someone that you feel comfortable with, the same nationality or speaking the same language, who better understands you. You should foresee a long-term relationship that can facilitate your ongoing needs.
Lawyers in the UAE do not necessarily have to be UAE nationals. All lawyers must be licensed to practice law in Federal courts and be under the supervision of an accredited law firm.

The best way to find a good lawyer is to:
– Do a thorough web search. Look online, check lawyer’s websites and forums, look everywhere you can. Attentively read all the testimonials you find from the real people.
– Ask in your Embassy/Consulate to recommend you any trusted local lawyer.
– Ask for references from your friends or colleagues who have had own experience with the certain law firms.
– Get referrals from the UAE courts or local Legal Department personally or through surfing on relevant websites.
– Make research and visit the nearest Law offices in your area.
– Ask the right questions while meeting with every lawyer you visit.

Important Tip:
Once you have chosen a lawyer, ask to sign a legal fees agreement and make sure you understand exactly what you are agreeing to, how you will be billed, and how your retainer will work. You might be paying hourly or a flat fee. Find out what it covers exactly. Don’t be shy to ask questions. Do not hire a lawyer who will not give you a legal fees agreement. This is not negotiable.
Be clear on what you expect, what the lawyer can do for you, and what the lawyer thinks it will cost. Lawyers cannot give exact estimates of the entire trial expenses, but they should be able to give you an idea.

The Law: Working Hours During Ramadan

What is Ramadan Hours?

Office work hours during the Holy month of Ramadan are different, with an average of two hours reduced from the daily job schedule, but there may be exceptions.
Under UAE Federal Labour Law, the working hours of all employees shall be reduced by two hours per day during the Holy month of Ramadan. This means that employees should only work 6 hours per day (as the statutory maximum working hours are 8 hours per day).
Ramadan hours apply to all companies in the UAE proper, whether they are based onshore or in a free zone, as well as in the DIFC.

Is it applicable for non-Muslims also?

UAE Labour Law provides that working hours should be reduced by two hours per day and does not differentiate between fasting and non-fasting employees. Therefore, it is applicable to all employees irrespective of their religion or whether they are fasting or not.

Is it a violation if employees are forced to work extra hours?

The authorities do conduct checks from time to time to ensure that companies are compliant with the Labour Law and employees are working according to Ramadan hours. If a company is found in breach of the Labour Law, the authorities (MOHRE) have the discretion to penalise such company. The penalty is in the discretion of the authorities and may be imposed on a case by case basis.
In addition, an employee who is forced to work extra hours has the right to complain to the MOHRE.

Will the salary be deducted for reduced working hours?

No, there should be no reduction in compensation as a result of a reduction in working hours. Employees should be paid at their normal rates as if they are working normal working hours.

There are different laws that govern employment issues for employees in the UAE proper, including free zones, as they are subject to UAE Federal Law. The same for employees in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), that have own labour law separate from the rest of the UAE.

The UAE Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 “The Labour Law” applies to all employees working in the UAE with a couple of exceptions, such as government employees, household servants etc.
Similarly, the DIFC Employment Law No. 4 of 2005 as amended (DIFC Employment Law) applies to employees working only within the DIFC.